It's such a shame that a lot of home cooks seem to relegate eggs to breakfast-only food.
They're extremely versatile and I use them often in my dishes to introduce a hit of richness or to marry other flavours.
A good egg has a firm, viscous white. It shouldn't be watery and should almost cling to the yolk.
A lot of home cooks worry about poaching eggs. Often the problem is simply that the eggs aren't super-fresh. The fresher the egg, the easier it is to poach, as the white sticks well to the yolk.
You can turn a light soup into a hearty meal by adding poached eggs.
My most guilty pleasure is fried eggs with garlic and bread. I slowly fry excellent-quality eggs in about two centimetres of olive oil and drain them well on a plate. I then thickly slice a few garlic cloves, fry them until golden and sprinkle them over the yolks. With good bread, it's my favourite late dinner.
1kg sebago potatoes, peeled
1 litre olive oil
1 brown onion, peeled
Cut potatoes into 1cm cubes and put in a large heavy-based frying pan. Cover with olive oil and place over high heat until the oil just starts to warm, then reduce to low-medium and confit for 25-30 minutes. The oil should not be bubbling rapidly. The idea is to soften the potatoes without turning them into little chips.
When softened, put potato into a sieve and drain the oil, which can be kept and used another time. Slice onion thinly and put in a small pot with a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook on low for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it has a soft, jam-like consistency.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, gently whisk the eggs until smooth and mix in 1 teaspoon of salt. Reserve 185ml of the egg mixture in a separate bowl. Add the potato and onion to the egg mix in the large bowl and briefly mix. Season with salt. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 26cm non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Pour in the egg and potato mixture. As the mixture starts to thicken shake the pan in a circular motion - the edges should start to round. Using a wooden spatula, start shaping the mixture into a thick disc, like a fat frisbee.
After 4 minutes, cover the frying pan with a plate and quickly flip the plate and pan so the tortilla is on the plate. Gently slide the tortilla back into the pan, uncooked side down, and reduce the heat to low-medium. Smooth out any imperfections in the cooked surface by pouring over a little of the reserved beaten egg and smoothing it in with a wooden spoon. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Flip the tortilla again and repeat the smoothing process with some of the remaining beaten egg. Cover and cook for a further 5 minutes. Turn over once more and cook for a further 5 minutes.
When done, the tortilla should not be completely firm and should have a little wobble in it when you gently shake the pan. Slide onto a plate and cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes. This allows the residual heat to set the remaining uncooked egg without the interior becoming rubbery. Serve at room temperature.
PISTO (Spain's ratatouille)
80ml vegetable oil
600 grams eggplant, diced
1 1/2 onions, diced
60ml olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 bay leaves, preferably fresh
1 teaspoon sugar
Black pepper, freshly ground
6 free-range eggs
To peel the tomatoes, score a cross in the base of each, place in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 30 seconds, then remove to cold water and allow to cool. Peel the skin away, starting from the cross. Cut tomatoes in half, scoop out any seeds, then dice into rough 1cm squares.
Put vegetable oil in a frying pan and heat on high until very hot. Add eggplant and cook on high, tossing continually for about 5 minutes until well browned and cooked through. Remove eggplant and place on absorbent paper until required.
In a large, heavy-based pot, saute diced onions with the olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and bay leaves and continue cooking while stirring for 2 minutes. Add zucchini, toss gently with onions for about 5 minutes until the outside begins to soften. Add tomatoes and sugar. Continue cooking on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a cup of water, stir in the eggplant and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes on a low heat. You may need to add some more water. Make sure you stir the pot so it doesn't stick. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Once cooked, place in a shallow pan or ovenproof frying pan. Using the back of a kitchen spoon, make six dents in the top of the vegetables and break one whole egg into each well. Bake in a moderate oven for about 6-8 minutes depending on how you like your yolks. Serve in individual portions with an egg. Great for breakfast or supper.
Barcelona-born Frank Camorra is chef and co-owner of MoVida Sydney and Melbourne's MoVida Bar de Tapas. MoVida Sydney takes part in Bread for Good.